In 1814, Turczaninow graduated from Kharkov University and went to work as a civil servant in St. Petersburg, where he published his first botanical list in 1825. In 1828 Turczaninov was assigned an administrative post in Irkutsk, Siberia. This allowed him to collect in the Lake Baikal area, and a spate of papers followed.
Turczaninov later opened an herbarium in Taganrog on the Sea of Azov. After a debilitating fall, he allowed others to collect for him and he spent his time in classification, study and writing.